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Top Ten New Years Resolutions for Screen time and Kids Eyes

(Note – You can read my previous Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions for Healthy Vision for Eye Health, Children’s Vision, Saving Money on Eyecare, Myopia Control, and Computer Vision Syndrome, -Dr. Nate)

Did your child receive any gifts with screens this holiday season? Or gifts such as a movie or new video game that are viewed on screens? My kids did. And they are VERY excited about them. They are not alone. The kids that I see in my office beg, whine, wheedle, and cajole their parents into as much screen time as possible. Many of them have their own tablets. And this is incredibly common. In fact, one 2015 study found that three quarters of 4 year-olds had their own devices.

There are obvious benefits for children to use technology. They can watch educational programming, Skype with distant friends and relatives, and download STEM and creative apps. But all of this screen time can come with downsides. One is childhood obesity. Another is social awareness and skill.

Others problem associated with screen time have to do with vision. This is something I talk about all day, every day at Bright Eyes Kids. Increased screen time can put children at risk for myopia (nearsightedness). Games such as Minecraft can be great, but can cause headaches and blurry vision due to eyestrain. In fact, eyestrain from device use can actually contribute to digital eyestrain or other visual problems that can make school work more difficult and require vision therapy to treat.

10 ways to keep your child’s electronic device use healthy:

  1. Set a clear Family Media Use Plan. For example, in my house, my children are not allowed screen time before noon. It is worth reading the American Academy of Pediatrics statement on media use from October 2016 to get some ideas.
  2. Optometrists recommend that people of all ages limit screen time to 20 minute intervals. Teach your child about the 202020 rule, every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break, and focus on something 20 feet away. Every hour, take a longer break.
  3. Buy a blue light reducing screen protector for your child’s phone, computer or tablet. http://health-e.com/offers one that reduces by 30%, but they offer through select optometrists 60% reduction.
  4. Mitigate the potential damage of focusing on close images, by having your child spend 2 hours a day outside. A recent study showed a 2% reduction of Myopia progression for every hour a week spent outside, or 28% for 2 hours a day.
  5. Minimize electronic device usage at night, a recent Harvard study showed that blue light at night effects melatonin levels, which effect sleep, blood sugar levels, and may be linked to certain other diseases.
  6. Ask your doctor about computer glasses or contacts which are specially designed to reduce eye strain by reducing the visual focus needed for computer use.
  7. Create fun alternatives to electronic devices, write a list of “cool” activities to do throughout the week. Great alternatives are outdoor time, board games, and creative projects. Even things as simple as walking to grocery store can be more rewarding than most things are your child’s screen.
  8. Role model proper screen use. As always our children learn from us, if we are glued to the screen, they will be less likely to take screen limitations seriously. Make a New Year’s resolution to limit your screen time and be more present for your kids. This is hard, but important!
  9. Make sure your child’s posture is not being affected by the chair or couch they are using while watching TV or on the computer. Adolescents with high computer usage were nearly twice as likely to report neck and back pain than those with moderate use.
  10. Talk to your eye doctor if your child avoids using the computer or complains about blurred vision or eye fatigue when using a screen, as this may signify a larger issue that needs to be addressed.

Happy New Year. May 2017 be better than 2016. 🙂

-Dr. Nate

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Dr. Nate and Betsy Yaros discuss Vivid Vision on Bay News 9

Several weeks ago we mentioned that Dr. Randy Shuck from Bay News 9 interviewed Betsy Yaros and Dr. Nate about Vivid Vision, the Virtual Reality Vision Therapy.

You can watch the whole segment here:

Here are the topics that are covered in the interview

  • Betsy discussed the nature of her vision problems. She explains that she was born premature with cross-eyed and required surgeries. Over time her vision got worse. When the eyes don’t work together, people cannot see 3D.
  • Dr. Nate explained that in some cases, such as Betsy’s, eye surgery can actually over-correct the problem and make it worse.
  • VRVTBetsy described some of the experience she had due her vision problem: being unable to read due to headaches, walking into walls, problems with depth perception, challenges with driving.
  • Dr. Nate explains how Vivid Vision applies Virtual Reality experiences to the principles used in vision therapy. In everyday life, each eye sees the world slightly differently and the brain puts the two images together to provide depth perception. In Vision Therapy, we carefully control the image that each eye sees. This is even more precisely controlled by the Occulus Rift VR system.
  • Betsy describes how easy and fun it was to use Vivid Vision and her experience seeing 3D for the first time.
  • Dr. Nate describes that frequently children do not recognize that they do not see the world the way others do and therefore they don’t complain. For this reason, optometrists recommend eye and vision exams and six months of age, 3 years of age, and every year while in school. This will test the visual skills they need to be successful in school, including the how the eyes move, focus, and work together. These skills can be developed through vision therapy, which includes Vivid Vision.
  • The age of patients that can use Vivid Vision is 6 to adulthood. In some cases, Vivid Vision can shorten the total length of treatment. It certainly makes it more fun.

You can see Betsy’s artwork and read her blog at her website: http://betsyyaros.com/

You can read more about Vivid Vision Virtual Reality Vision Therapy. If you have questions about whether or not Vivid Vision or Vision Therapy in general is an option for you or your child, call us at 813-792-9637, or use the comment section below.

-Dr. Nate

John John’s Vision Videos

Over the last few years John John has become a wonderful friend of Bright Eyes. He is an incredibly fun and inquisitive young man who loves to make YouTube videos. Everyone was impressed by his cute and surprisingly accurate early video about Eyes. After that, we started emailing and he eventually joined us for videos on How to Go to the Eye Doctor (over 22K views!), How to Get Vision Therapy (with me) , and How to Get Sports Vision Training (with Dr. Beth). He has also done videos on How Glasses are Made and How to Use Google Cardboard.

I’ve put the videos here in chronological order so you can see how John John has grown and the videos have improved over time.

And John John doesn’t just do videos about vision. Here are some favorites:

You can see all of John John’s videos and find out how to get in touch with him at his website http://amazingjohnjohn.blogspot.com/

-Dr. Nate

3 TEDx Talks on Vision and Vision Therapy

Ideas Worth Spreading about Vision Therapy

TEDx-logoChances are that you have heard of TED Talks. They are short live presentations designed to inspire awe, wonder, and curiosity. Or, as TED says, “ideas worth spreading.” Initially on the subjects of Technology, Education, and Design (T.E.D.), now talked cover almost every conceivable topic. I highly encourage you to find some mind-blowing Ted Talks to watch.

If you live in a moderately large large city, you probably have TEDx Talks.This is the local, independent version of TED, where everyday people can share what they are passionate about. Several years ago I presented a TEDx talk on the subject of hyperlocal social media and it was a lot of fun.

As the years pass, TEDx talks get better and better. I am happy to present 3 TEDx talks below about the important of vision and vision development.

From TEDx Victoria: Overlooking Our Vision

Sight is something many of us take for granted, but as Cameron McCrodan shows, there are many aspects of sight that are simply overlooked – and they can have a massive impact on our quality of life.

From TEDx Lincoln: Curing learning-related vision problems

Optometrist, Dr. Vicky Vandervort explains what it is like for a person to have eyes that work but do so inefficiently causing the person to exert extreme effort to see. When this occurs, people, especially children, do not realize the drain on their brain.

From Tedx Pioneer Valley: Fixing My Gaze

Susan R. Barry, Professor at Mount Holyoke College, talks about solving her severe visual problems through vision therapy. “As I began to straighten my eyes and see in 3D, I learned that the adult brain is indeed capable of significant plasticity. Rewiring in the adult brain requires the presence of novel and behaviorally relevant stimuli, the conscious abandonment of entrenched habits, and the establishment, through intense practice, of new ones.”

Enjoy these talks. They are a nice introduction vision therapy and shows why Dr. Beth and I are so passionate about in our work at Bright Eyes Family Vision Care and Bright Eyes Kids.

-Dr. Nate

Happy Holidays from Bright Eyes!

 

Wow, what an exciting year 2014 has been at Bright Eyes! Below is a short list of major events for us.

  • Bright Eyes Kids is Open! The new office is just for kids. The new office, located in New Tampa, provides exams, glasses, contacts, one a week vision therapy, and orthokeratology. The new office is already growing! Starting in January 2015, it will have hours on weekends and evenings!
  • Welcome Dr. Knighton! She joined the Bright Eyes family in March. Just like Dr. Nate, she completed her Residency in pediatric vision care and Vision Therapy, and she specializes in contact lenses and primary vision care for the entire family.
  • Dr. Nate gets his FCOVD! After 4 years of study, Dr. Nate has achieved Fellowship from the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, making him the only optometrist in Tampa to be residency-trained and FCOVD.
  • Bright Eyes on TV – You can see Dr. Nate and Dr. Beth on the local TV show CW44 on the Town, discussing children’s vision, vision therapy and the new pediatric office. See the whole video below or a short version on the Bright Eyes Kids webpage.
  • Dr. Nate, Dr. Beth, and Cristina lecturing. We have given many talks this year to eye doctors, opticians, occupational therapists, students and other groups on the subjects of children’s vision and eyewear. If you have a professional, homeschool, or a parent group and would like us to speak at one of your events, email us at office@BrightEyesTampa.com or call 813-792-0637.

Thank you for helping to make 2014 a wonderful year for Bright Eyes.
We are here to empower our patients through improved vision.
If there is anything we can to help you, or if we could improve in any way, please let us know!

REMINDER: Many of our patients have vision plans or flex/HSA benefits that expire at the end of the year. There is still time to make an appointment and make good use of your benefits!

Have a Merry Christmas and an awesome 2015!

-Dr. Nate, Dr. Beth, and the Bright Eyes Staff

 

Floaters – What Are They? [video]

People constantly ask me about floaters. This is good because they are paying attention and they know that they have been told that if they have a sudden change in floaters, either size or amount, they should call or come to the office right away to evaluate for potentially vision threatening problems.

But for most people, it turns out that we have floaters normally, we just don’t notice them that often. Right now, if I look at the computer screen and space out, I can see them, but I haven’t thought about them all day.

This is a nice little video that my mom sent me that explains floaters in an easy to understand way. I thought it would be good for sharing.

-Dr. Nate

Bright Eyes Family Vision Care and Bright Eyes Kids

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Tetris therapy for amblyopia? Yes, please.

A new study, about amblyopia, has been published and it is really getting attention. From CBS news to Huffington Post to CNET, everyone is covering it, probably because they get to use the word “Tetris” in the title. Tetris, of course, is the hugely addictive block-stack game that, at least in my memory, was the first hand-held videogame blockbuster.

Amblyopia, known to many people as “lazy eye” is a visual adaptation to conditions that interfere with visual development. On a simple level, it means that even with the best glasses or contact lenses, the eye does not see and function as well as expected. It is not due to disease or injury, but rather a situation where the brain doesn’t communicate well with one eye and can’t use the eyes as a team.
Think of the brain being someone on the internet, and one eye is a friend with 14.4K dial up and the other has a 4G smart phone. Yes, you can communicate with both eyes, but you are going to prefer the 4G because it is faster and can do more things. Trying to use both eyes simultaneously as a team is hard because one is lagging behind and missing information.

I am extremely glad to see this study and I do have some thoughts on it:
First, do not get too excited about the Tetris part. While I really have no doubt that Tetris and similar games stimulate visual planning and cognitive development, I suspect that the main benefit of using Tetris in this study is that it is very engaging, requires attention to visual detail, and requires the player to make decisions based on visual information. Basically this is true for most video games (and real world games, for that matter). So Tetris is not the magic here.

What IS a big deal about this study is the goggles – they required the eyes to work together to play the game. If you play, you can’t just shut off the amblyopic eye, or you’ll lose because you won’t see the falling blocks. And that isn’t motivating or good therapy. It isn’t patching or covering the good eye because you won’t see the blocks on the bottom. You still won’t win. This is like conventional patching. You can stimulate the amblyopic eye (upgrading the modem), but that alone only helps somewhat.

What this study shows is that only when both eyes can see and are given the opportunity to work together to achieve a common visual goal is there significant improvement in the amblyopic eye. In my internet analogy, this is not only giving the amblyopic eye a 4G smartphone but making sure it is net savvy. Both eyes are now friends on Facebook and Twitter so they can work together in real time to solve visual-spatial problems efficiently. (Just to be clear: the eyes do not use Facebook, and they do not communicate directly – all that happens in the brain).

So why is this so exciting? Because this is exactly what we do in vision therapy every day. We “upgrade” the eyes to work well individually (4G) but also “network” them to work together (Facebook, Twitter). We don’t use Tetris, but we do use paper & pens, balls, special glasses, computer programs, 3D art, optical illusions and lots of other fun tools to make it fun and productive.

It is great to see more research on this on adults with amblyopia. For too many years, patients have been told that after early childhood there is no hope of improving the vision in the amblyopic eye. It simply is not true. I did a blog post awhile back on the science behind amblyopia. You can see that here. For a great look at binocular treatment of amblyopia, see this recent post on the VisionHelp blog.

Dr. Nate

By Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care

Informational Videos about Glaucoma and Cataracts

When I talk to people about their eye health, I always ask about eye conditions and diseases that run in their family. It is important to know if they are likely to develop these problems. Many people get glaucoma and cataracts confused. Although they are both generally painless conditions that can cause blindness if not treated appropriately.

To help people keep cataracts and glaucoma straight, here are two videos. If you or your family members have not had an eye exam in the last year, schedule one to evaluate for these conditions.

-Dr. Nate

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

Glaucoma:

Cataracts:

New EyeFiles Video on How Computer Use Can Affect Children’s Vision

Have you ever flown on an airplane? While watching the luggage come and go, you’ve probably noticed that all of the workers have large earmuffs on. Why earmuffs in Florida? They wear them because the planes are loud! Workers at airports need to protect their ears so the noise won’t hurt them and cause hearing problems.

Workers in offices also have to be careful, not usually from loud noise but from computer use. Just like repeated exposure to loud noise can cause hearing problems, long hours focusing on the computer or digital device can cause eyestrain and vision problems. This is called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) and it can lead to problems like watery, irritated eyes, headache, neck pain, and reduced efficiency at work.

Every day, I talk to patients who deal with computer vision syndrome, and I recommend ways that they can protect their eyes and vision. The right computer set up and lighting is important. Taking breaks is important. For some people, I prescribe computer vision glasses to help relieve eyestrain. You can read more about this in an article I wrote for Mashable called 5 Important Tips for Better Eye Heath in a Digital World.

But protecting our eyes and ears is not just for adults or just for work. In fact, children may be even more susceptible to certain problems than adults because they are still growing and developing. And increasingly, much of their work AND play takes place on digital devices, so parents need to be aware of how computers can affect their children and their eyes.

I’m happy to share that VSP Vision Care has a new EyeFiles video out specifically about computer vision syndrome and children:

For more specific information, check out this handy Question and Answer handout that I helped VSP Vision Care create to accompany the video. It discusses:

  • What digital eyestain is
  • How it can affect kids
  • What the symptoms are
  • Steps parents can take to reduce symptoms

If you have any questions or concerns about how the computer or handheld device is affecting your children’s eyes, please stop by or call us. You can also read previous CVS blog posts here.

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.
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New Sports Vision Video with NBA Star Tyreke Evans and VSP

This new video from VSP is great! Not only is it pretty fun and entertaining, but it also makes a great point about the importance of vision and activities like sports. I’ll be honest I don’t know who Tyreke Evans is, because I don’t follow basketball, but I do know that vision is very important for sports! Not only do you need to see clearly, you and have to have good peripheral vision and good visual reaction time; all of these things are necessary to win. The great thing is that if there are problems with any of these things, they can be fixed with corrective lenses or vision therapy!

This video shows that protecting your eyes on the court or on the field is very important. Regular glasses are not designed for sports and are actually less safe than sports glasses. And don ‘t worry, the modern sports glasses are way cooler than the ones I had when I was a kid! Stop by Bright Eyes to check out some of the new models.

The VSP video also does a great job of highlighting the American Optometric Association’s recommendation that the first eye exam should occur at six months, then three years, then before kindergarten, assuming nothing is wrong.

If you have any questions about your little one’s vision, have concerns that vision may be interfering with sports, or whether or not they are protecting their eyes sufficiently during sports, ask us!

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.
Dr Nate Google PlusBright Eyes Tampa on Google PlacesBright Eyes Tampa on FacebookBright Eyes Tampa on TwitterBright Eyes Tampa on YelpBright Eyes Tampa on foursquareWestchase Patch